Holiday feel… Oh December!

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Photo by john paul tyrone fernandez on Pexels.com

Do you ever get that feeling when December comes and you start reminiscing about your life and how this year has been? That’s exactly where I am now. I’ve just renewed my residence visa for 2 more years which means if I decide to complete that, I’ll be in UAE for 7 years by 2021.

My life here has been full of surprises, the original plan was to play house as I call it. However, the universe drew me back to flying and it’s been a rollercoaster ride! Regrets? Some, Lessons? A million, Happy times? Definitely, Loneliness? Oh yes! But I wouldn’t change much of this time. Now I will concentrate on back up plans in case of waking up one day and realizing it’s time to move on.

There’s just something about the last month of the year that makes us nostalgic. Maybe it’s realizing how fast life happens and we cannot afford to loose precious time. We should be grateful for what we’ve had, communicate more with our loved ones, visit family more often and just try to live happily. Do it before another December knocks on your door! This year I am grateful that my eldest sister is coming to visit for the first time since I moved to this region. Can’t believe neither of my sisters has been here so I’m super excited!  I’ll get to play tourist guide and show her around. It’ll be one of the few Christmas that I won’t be flying somewhere and I am very happy about it!

One of the biggest lessons I learnt this 2018 is that if you feel the need to reach out to someone to tell them how much you miss them and care about them, you should not be afraid to do so! Even those friends who distance has played its role on, talk to them, meet up and you will see that the majority will be more than happy to reconnect!

Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

What is it with flying?

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Photo credit by Me en route to Tbilisi, Georgia.

I just arrived in Abu Dhabi after being home for 1 month due to a broken ankle. It took me 2 flights to get here (San Jose-Paris 10hrs) and (Paris-Abu Dhabi 6.35hrs). I am jet lagged, with a swollen ankle and off course, missing my family.

This slight sadness while being on the other side of the world, makes me think WHY AM I DOING THIS? It’s not like I am going to fly forever! Especially knowing that this job is not a lifetime career here.  On October 1st, I turned 31 and we have all heard that Middle Eastern airlines are known for the early 20’s crew.  Now that I’ve got my flying license suspended until my foot gets better. I’ll have plenty of time to think about my life and try to think what my future step will be!

While I was flying back from home, I took Air France and as crew, you can’t avoid but compare the service between cabin crew of other airlines. That particular crew had a median age of around 45 years old and they all looked so calm, poised, polite but with a don’t mess with me look. They do have this job for a lifetime, no age restrictions or exhausting schedules. Plus, passengers don’t get all complicated with them because they know that they simply can’t!

Us on the other side, are supposed to be bubbly, excited to serve and always looking pretty. It is extremely demanding and tiring sometimes! If I had only 4/5 flights a month or so, off course I could do this for a VERY LONG TIME! Instead, I feel my body is getting drained quickly. This past month, I was able to sleep deeply and without interruptions. Going to bed around 21:30 and waking up without an alarm at 6:30/7am and just having a “normal” life.

Now that I’m back in UAE, the first night was terrible. Off course I passed out at 16hrs, woke up at 21:30 and couldn’t manage to close my eyes until 06:35am! Yes its jet lag but also the stress of not knowing when I am going back to work and if I’ll feel comfortable after being on ground for a while…

Oh I’ve always wanted to be a Flight Attendant! 🌎

I hear this line quite often from people when they ask me what I do for a living… 

The thing is, it’s not always as amazing as it sounds! Don’t get me wrong here, in my 6+ years of flying, I’ve seen and heard quite a lot of things that make me think, “Yes it’s an exciting job but it’s not forever!”

Quite surely I can say that it’s not a career in the Middle East Airlines. I started when I was 23 and now I am 31 and I feel the difference! We usually work 12 to 14 hour duties from sign in, have multiple flights a week with only 11 hours legal rest in between. Yes sometimes we get 5 days off in a row but in my case, as I fly mostly the 320, I’m constantly living in my uniform and it started to mentally and physically drain me.

My usual routes are India, Pakistan, Africa and the Gulf Countries. Sometimes I try to be positive and say well I get to sleep in my own bed tonight but then, when I get back home at 2am and know that my next duty starts at 14:00hrs, it makes me think is it worth it?

My body is having more of hard time adjusting to my busy schedules which involve Late night Turnarounds and 4 sectors a day most of the time. Yes we look pretty and are smiling to the guests, but they don’t really know how we feel on the inside and they shouldn’t as we chose to do this on our own. However, as an advice be nice to us when your getting on the plane! If we greet you, just say hi back!

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This is my lucky charm Minion Captain in the Flight Deck!

It is a constantly demanding job. You have to please everyone even if they’re shouting at you because they didn’t get their meal preference or the person in front of them reclined their seat. We have many duties to fulfill in just 1 flight. We secure the cabin, serve meals, collect the trash, attend to First Aid cases, sell duty free, do walk arounds, clean the toilets and Oh boy, that’s fun! (Yes that’s sarcasm talking). Whenever we are about to sit to eat after running around like headless chickens, there’s something that comes up and there you go to attend that call bell that is only for you to pick up leftover trash.

Being a HUB, the area where I work is mostly for connections. We deal with people from different cultures, manners and beliefs. It is hard to please them all! I remember once, I cried because I felt so insulted by someone that I couldn’t take it anymore. Yet we wipe the tears off and come out with a smile.

Do I regret leaving what could’ve been my long term job as a Journalist to travel the world? Absolutely not! But now I’m in the middle of a 30’s life uncertainty. What will I do next?

Eight years living between Doha and now the UAE started to feel like its time for me to move on. Being alone and so far away from family makes you think a lot about it!

If there’s anyone out there who’s been flying and decided to leave the job for good, share your insights with me! Advices from fellow colleagues are always welcomed!

Ready, Set, Go! Training starts

After 2 days of relaxation and getting mentally prepared for the following weeks there I was, sitting at the first day of training.  I can still remember the faces of the other 15 girls who like me, felt fear and excitement at the same time for what was yet to come.

Amazed at how diverse our group was, I was eager to know where they were all from. One by one we stood up and introduced ourselves. We were coming from South Africa, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, The Philippines, Slovenia, France, Rumania, Lithuania and finally Mexico and Costa Rica. Our Service trainer was from The Philippines and the Safety one was from India. They were both ladies, perfectly groomed but with a serious yet charming flight attendant personality.

We were told our batch would be named AB 629 and all our classes were going to be from 7:30 am until 2pm.

After the introduction, the trainers started mentioning the drill of the following 7 weeks: They strictly mentioned that tardiness was not going to be tolerated, we would have breaks between 15 to 20 minutes and a lunch break of 40 minutes.

If we fell sick, we would have to go to the Airline’s medical center to be evaluated. Under no circumstances were we able to go out past 10pm during Initial training. Even during the weekends which we had off.

We were bound to read, study and learn the Manuals by heart. If we failed the oral or practical exams we would not graduate and would be sent back home.       Training days were absolutely intense! Countless nights of reciting word after word the evacuation drills, drawing maps about all the aircrafts we were about to fly. They were Airbus 320, 321, 330-200/300, 340 and Boeing 777-200 and 300. For someone like me who never knew anything about aircrafts it was perfect panic…

Looking back at how this airline trains their crew, I must say hats off! One of the best trainings I have ever got! I still remember some things. Those days of crying during practicals paid off. They made the training in my current airline way easier!